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Kennel Cough – Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

Posted on 4th April 2016 by Green Lane Farm Team

One of your main duties as a dog owner is to be able to recognise the symptoms of the most common illnesses so you know when professional veterinary help is required. As such, this article will look into one of the most common illnesses to affect dogs: kennel cough. Here, we will explain the causes, symptoms, prevention methods and treatments for this illness, so you know what to look for in your pet and what action to take.

Causes of Kennel Cough


Similar to a chest cold for humans, kennel cough is a highly contagious disease which affects the respiratory system of dogs. This virus is spread through the air when infected dogs sneeze and cough, and causes an inflammation of the voice box and windpipe amongst sufferers.

It can affect dogs of all ages, although some are more susceptible than others. For example, puppies are more prone to catching this virus as their immune systems are still developing, whilst adult dogs suffering from conditions which reduce the strength of their immune systems are more vulnerable too.

Kennel Cough Symptoms

As the name suggests, the main symptom of kennel cough is a hacking, dry cough which can last for several weeks. Officially known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, kennel cough was named as such because it is a highly contagious viral infection which can be quickly spread from dog to dog in kennels or animal shelters.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Wheezing
  • Gagging
  • Sneezing
  • Snorting
  • Vomiting

It’s worth noting that whilst animals infected with kennel cough will display these symptoms, they will otherwise behave and eat normally. Having said that, exercise or over excitement can cause these symptoms to worsen.

In severe cases, symptoms can develop into pneumonia, fever, lethargy, and can even prove fatal.

Preventing Kennel Cough


Fear not, kennel cough can be prevented! The kennel cough vaccination is an effective preventative measure which helps protect your dog against the disease. When it comes to the vaccination itself, here at Green Lane Farm we have always recommended the injection rather than the nose drops as it makes for a far more comfortable experience for your dog. Not only that, the injection protects your dog against kennel cough for a year – as opposed to 6 months with the nasal vaccine – and it covers more strains than nose drops to further reduce the risk.

Treating Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is typically diagnosed by a vet who will carry out several blood tests to detect the bacteria. Whilst the infection can eventually run its course on its own, there are several ways it can be treated to help your animal recover quicker:

  • Antibiotics. Treating kennel cough with antibiotics is done so in a similar way that doctors treat the common cold for humans. The vet can prescribe a course of antibiotics which will help your dog recover from kennel cough faster.
  • Vitamin C. If you would rather choose a natural treatment for your dog, much like with humans vitamin C will help strengthen your dog’s immune system so they can fight kennel cough more effectively.
  • Cough medicine. Cough medicines can provide some comfort for your dog when they are suffering from the symptoms of kennel cough – we recommend you consult with a vet to find out which products are the most suitable.
  • Honey. If you would rather opt for a natural alternative to cough medicine, a half to 1 teaspoon of honey several times a day can help soothe your dog’s aching throat and prevent irritation.

Green Lane Farm

With over 50 years experience looking after animals, here at Green Lane Farm we are dedicated to making all animals in our care feel as comfortable and happy as possible. We are passionate about your pet, providing attentive and trustworthy animal care to pet owners throughout Chessington, Kingston, and the wider Surrey areas. For professional advice or to find out more about our boarding kennel and cattery services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team today.  

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